Passion (for the work) leads to incredible websites.

Many, many times, it’s a love fest between the mStoner team and the campus teams that engage us. True passion for the educational mission combined with demonstrated passion for the website work we’re doing together are essential for incredible results. Why? Because large campus-wide initiatives are overwhelming and complex and mired in consensus decision making. There is a temptation to default to the choices that anyone will support in order to make headway. Without passion for the work, you might follow the steps but end up with less than incredible results.

Enter the passionate people. These are the individuals who insist that we work harder, take risks, and frankly, shoot for the moon. Passionate people follow the process but they also have the end result in mind. And for them, the end is something to be proud of; the end is something that makes those who don’t know their institution passionate about it all the same.

Speaking of campus teams, I was inspired to write this post after a Gchat with one of our clients. Late one afternoon, we were informally ruminating about decisions to be made and details to be nailed down. We were even doing a little hand wringing about the range of opinions coming in from stakeholders. We were talking about how we’d go about making the right choices for the new campus website. I think we were both a bit worried.

Then, the client I was chatting with wrote, “Well it’s the passionate people who make or break projects. The indifferent ones can do the work but they won’t make the difference.”

There it was. The true statement. Do you agree? I do and here’s why: Communication on the #higheredweb is about using storytelling, compelling messages, and clear information to influence individuals who have other choices. To stand out, you need to vividly and clearly represent your college or university. To get to the clear and vivid, you need to let your passion for and understanding of your institution seep into your consciousness. That way, you know incredible creative when you see it. That way, you know extraordinary copy when you read it. And, because you have passion for the project, you aren’t satisfied until the institution you love is right there standing out in that big, beautiful jumble of HTML and .jpg files and fonts.

Passionate people come in many forms. There are surprising number of alumni working on the web, marketing, communications and IT teams we partner with. This is a bonus because the depth of their knowledge of and commitment to the institution is more nuanced. Fortunately, teams also include long-term employees, people who’ve spent many years on the same campus. These individuals often feel like alumni themselves and they can help you navigate toward the incredible because they know where the skeletons are buried. Finally, don’t ignore the team members who are in the early stages of their careers; they are the most consistently passionate about their work. Capitalize on this; listen to their ideas and be influenced by younger individuals who aren’t jaded by your own history of stalled projects and possibilities.

I suppose there’s the risk of being blinded by love. Don’t let the passion for the institution and the work cloud your view. You need data, you need deadlines, and you need decisions. After all, your passion for the institution should be grounded in what you learn from stakeholders and target audiences. Use your passion the right way: to make sure all are heard, to insist on the best, to make a decision that won’t be popular with everyone.

Start a love fest on your campus, show passion for your work!

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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